Webster Groves Schools along with 16 other districts in the St. Louis area began integrating more locally farmed food into school lunches instead of purchasing from corporations.
Last year the school used 2,128 cases of fruits and vegetables and is currently accessing as much local food as possible.
“I definitely support it; I think everyone likes the variety, and it’s healthier,” said sophomore Ryan Tumminello.
“It’s a really great idea that we’re doing this,” said assistant principal John Raimondo.
Since the harvest season isn’t long, the cafeteria can only be supplied with local food for 17 weeks.
“The school takes full advantage of the fall and spring,” said chief financial officer, Dian Moore.
“We try to pick things we really think the students will like,” Moore added
Farms that meet the “local and fresh” criteria of having its produce served in a school must remain within a radius of 150 miles. These farms use less pesticides and herbicides, therefore creating a healthier meal for students who purchase lunch from the school.
Director of Food Services, Theresa Boettler, said, “The farm harvests what produce the school is looking to incorporate into its lunch diet.”
“Since the school has to select the farm it wishes to purchase from, it must first inspect the farm to make sure its produce is safe for students and faculty to eat.”
Boetler added, “The hot spell lost many crops for farmers this summer; they are at the mercy of the weather.”
The loss of crops has resulted in the impairment of selling foods for school lunches.
“Local food is a health and community benefit, but the food is also more expensive,” said Boettler
Lunch prices have increased, but according to Moore, “The school tries to make the program self-supporting; revenue is collected from the cost of the meals, and federal funding helps cover the expenses too.”
While lunch prices have hiked, this is also due to legislation like the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which mandates lunch prices increase marginally to provide free lunches to students in need, as well as to control what the food is made of and where the ingredients come from.
The high school plans to continue and promote this program for years to come.
“The food is good for you and good for the community,” said Boettler.